Australian Critics of Scientology
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Picket report: Sydney, 7th Dec

David Gerard, Sun 16 Mar 1997

From: (David Gerard)
Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
Subject: Picket Report: Melbourne, March 15th 1997
Date: 16 Mar 1997 10:24:33 GMT
Message-ID: <>

Picket Report: Melbourne, March 15th 1997

We'd used more or less the same leaflet the previous three Melbourne demos, so I decided to do a different one (the demo announcement as posted), adapted from Ray Randolph's Boulder picket leaflet; mainly on the theme of Lisa McPherson. Also, to make it absolutely clear which side we were on, I made up new signs: one sign with 'ANTI-SCIENTOLOGY DEMO' on both sides, and the other with 'SCIENTOLOGY HURTS PEOPLE' on one side and 'IT'S NOT ABOUT RELIGION' on the other. Font used was Univers Bold, 200-point for the word 'SCIENTOLOGY' and 255-point for all other words; readable from way down the street.

On my way to the demo (stopping at a local hobby shop to buy furniture tacks for the signs, in fact), a woman in the street stopped me to ask about my 'ANTI-SCIENTOLOGY DEMO' sign. I told her that, yes, we were having one in town in about twenty minutes (I was running late as usual), and she proceeded to gush out the tale of her daughter getting sucked into Scientology and the expense and heartache it had caused. I may have been the first person she'd ever met working against them; I'm sure a few of you have had this happen. I told her that I really had to rush, but gave her a leaflet and told her to go to the local library and look up the Internet info listed on the back ( - I'm now very glad I put at the top to look this stuff up at your local library - and that the Internet was on the case and the Church of Scientology was going down ;-) and there was my address, get in touch. This sort of thing happening makes it all seem just that little bit more worthwhile.

Oh yeah, and the taxi driver was pleased with what I was doing too. Scn's public image is wonderful.

Got there just before 11am, Frank Copeland got there and we assembed the signs. Saw Brian Johnston, gave him our leaflet and saw that they were just using the green 'Victims of CultAware' leaflet and copies of the Australian 'Freedom' (the same one as ever). Frank had done seventy copies of the 'Stop The Harassment' leaflet ( - which was just as well, as I'd only done seventy of mine and we actually ran out of leaflets just before 1pm. Frank had also made up some nice stickers saying 'NOT A SCIENTOLOGIST' for us to wear (on lapel and back).

A policeman came up to see what was going on, and we explained that we expected nothing at all untoward to happen; he had spoken to Cyril Vosper earlier in the week and had heard about Sydney last September, so I specifically reassured him that Melbourne was much more civilised ... really ...

Frank crossed the road with the 'ANTI-' sign and we showed our signs to passing cars (a fair few thumbs-up) and handed out leaflets. The Scientologists had a few guys handing out leaflets and one fellow working the video camera. The video dude came over and said "What's that about, Scientology hurting people?" and I handed him my Lisa leaflet. Which he proceeded to read - both sides. That's fine by me. (Particularly as I also gave one to the replacement video dude an hour later.) Cyril took some photos.

Two more police stopped by and chatted to both sides to check that things would remain calm. I reassured them again and gave them a leaflet. The policeman - a young fellow, about twenty - referred to them as a 'cult' in conversation. I think the police were edgy about the anti-Nazi demo across town (which apparently turned out as expected - eighty police defending forty neo-Nazis and their National Action book-shop from a few thousand pissed-off non-Aryans), and wanted quite a bit of reassurance that they wouldn't be needed elsewhere.

The foot traffic was considerably up this time. A lot of nicely-dressed people came by with name-tags and took our leaflets and theirs. After a while Cyril found out who they were: psychiatrists gathering across the street! (The launch of a new anti-depressant; science hammers another nail in Scientology's coffin.) Which explained the Scientologists' hastily-scribbled (and hard to read close-up, let alone across the street) anti-psychiatry signs.

Amusing moments: the guy in a utility (US: pick-up truck) who stopped at the lights and yelled for one of our leaflets - as he drove off, the Scientologist photographer ran after him and chucked a leaflet in the back of the ute. The Scn leafleter who was told to get over the other side of the street, and started across about three times before working out that it would be a good idea to wait for the light to change - dig that unswerving determination! The public Scn who came up to ask us what the hell we were on about and seemed utterly shocked that anyone would actually demonstrate against Scientology; he ended up chatting to Cyril for ten minutes.

I tried for media coverage, the total being a call from Channel Seven (telly! yesss!) ... at 11am at my home, when the leaflet I'd sent said the demo would be on. And no, I don't have a mobile phone. (Analogue mobiles are now <$50 - they're being phased out in three years - and the setup fee is now less than the cost of a second line ... hmm, that might be an idea.)

The demo was basically uneventful; three of us (four for the last half hour), five or six of them at any time. The public was very happy with what we were doing, though even with our new-look ultra-obvious signs it still took a moment for some to work out what side we were on. The psychiatrists were amused. A fine demo and a lovely morning out. I'll have to do more leaflets for the next one. More people next time please; I know there's a lot of Melbourne lurkers out there.

Hmm, time to change that .sig . Early June, anyone? Is there a Scn-significant date we can fit in?

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